I went back to Notre Dame of Maryland University in Baltimore as a sophomore for #BlogU15 (June 5 – 7). While much of this blog post may only resonate with my sorority sisters (and a handful of sorority dudes), there is an overall message that we all can take away. And isn’t that what’s it all about…the takeaways?
We all planned.
We all Facebooked.
We all followed each other.
We all spent money.
We all arranged for the family to survive without us for 72 hours.
We all traveled.
We all arrived.
We all hugged.
We all got #swag. So. Much. Swag.
I was on campus in time to take the two of the four classes that afternoon (two classes ran concurrently for an hour each).
I took Writing & Editing Workshop with Nichole Lee Shaw and Robyn Welling and Mastering Pinterest with Anna Luther. So much talent. So many takeaways.
After dinner, we all made the cheerleading squad and waved pompoms at the Pep Rally (hosted by Responsibility.org @TalkEarly #RefreshYourFunny).
Then, we all clapped for the success of others at the Awards Ceremony (presented by HuffPost Parents @HuffPostParents).
And then, we all listened to the champion bloggers as they read their winning essays. And we all laughed. And we all cried.
At Open Mic Night (sponsored by That’s What She Said @SheSaidProject), blogger after blogger after blogger after blogger got up and read to a packed room of people who wanted to hear what was being read. They were funny. They were dirty. They were serious. They were sad. They were awesome. All takeaways.
Following Nicole Leigh Shaw’s sing-a-long of “On Top of Spaghetti” and her effortless knee-slapping humor (she is a total natural), the keynote speakers [also known as blogging goddesses in my world) were amazing – hysterical, informative and real. SO. DAMN. REAL. Jill Smokler of Scary Mommy (yeah, she was there!); Anna Luther of My Life and Kids; and Nikki Knepper of Moms Who Drink and Swear, had the room in uniformed laughter.
There were so many takeaways from the keynote presentation. One that resonated with me big-time was said with causal brilliance by Nikki Knepper …. It went something like this: “If you didn’t want people to read your stuff, you’d write it in a book and hide it under your bed with your porn and your money.”
Then, we all learned. Learned in a way that you simply can’t from a book. And especially not the cliff notes. This was straight-up, hear-from-the-best, no-question-is-off-limits learning at its best.
No one was competing for the highest grade-point average. People shared notes. Friends texted one another with screen shots of the presentations. Strangers shared tips, tricks and little known know-how’s. Takeaways. So. Many. Takeaways.
All of the classes offered were awesome – and I wish I could have attended every single one of them. But since I cannot be in four places at once (though my family assumes/expects it!), I had to choose the one session during each time slot that I felt would help me the most. And I did. Here’s what I attended:
- Building Online Communities that Benefit Your Audience & You with JD Baily and Jen Mann
- Don’t Whine, Get a Byline with Estelle Erasmus
Break for lunch (with Nickelodeon @NickelodeonTV)
- Beyond Blogging: How to Make (Real) Money as a Writer with Jessica Watson, JD Baily and Robyn Welling
- Build Your Book with Jen Mann
I even got to sit down with Jen Kehl from Beyond Blog Design for quite possibly the most important 20 minutes of the conference. She evaluated my site, gave me important techie tips and prevented my site from getting hacked (note to self: UPDATE YOUR PLUG-INS!)
During “office hours,” we were able to hang out with the “faculty” and ask questions and profess our love for them. I mean, network. And eat cupcakes. And take pictures!!
After dinner and a brief rest, it was off to the “Middle School to the Max” #MiddleSchoolAwkward party hosted by Nickelodeon @NickMom, where my fellow bloggers channeled their inner awkward middle school selves. Having trouble picturing it? Think Debbie Gibson, Mary Katherine Gallagher, teen angst, braces, scrunchies, fanny packs and friendship pins.
Let me tell you, when Nickelodeon throws a party they do not mess around. Awesome decorations, selfie sticks for all, great music, dancing, good drink, yummy snacks and photo booths. So many photo booths. Check out the awesome captured on my iPhone.
I had to leave early to get to the airport, so I didn’t go to the closing ceremonies but I heard they were awesome.
All-in-all … awesome experience. Last year, I barely uttered two words to anyone (and it was still awesome). This year, I came out of my shell a little bit more. And me and my girl Laura Jo hung out the whole time and I even introduced myself to people. And, I was brave enough to take photos with many of my favorite bloggers.
I am so excited to implement all that I learned. Thank you to the entire BlogU team for making this conference – once again – an unforgettable experience.
So. Many. Takeways.